Books
Drood

by Dan Simmons
Little Brown, February 2009, $26.95

You have to marvel at Dan Simmons. A mere two years after producing the massive, intensely engaging, critically acclaimed masterpiece The Terror, he returns with another massive, intensely engaging, sure to be critically acclaimed masterpiece, Drood. Set in Victorian England, the novel focuses on the last five years of Charles Dickens' eventful and troubled life, beginning with the tragic 1865 train accident in Staplehurst, England and following Dickens' activities until his death in 1870. Simmons' brilliant conceit is that the story is being told by Dickens' friend, associate, and sometimes rival, Wilkie Collins, via a manuscript scheduled to be released 125 years after Collins' death.

Collins, a laudanum addict, and the very model of an unreliable narrator, weaves a tale so fantastic that it rivals the best of his own classic "novels of sensation," The Woman in White and The Moonstone. Collins maintains that, after the train accident, Dickens met, and became fatally obsessed with, a mystery man named Drood, an undead mesmerist supreme who some claim was responsible for over three hundred murders in London over the course of several decades. Collins painstakingly details Dickens' subsequent decline, and his myriad faults as a human being, at the same time exposing his own despicable acts and habits.

Expertly embellishing on historical events, Simmons ultimately leaves it to readers to decide whether Collins' manuscript contains the grisly truth or the barely controlled rants of a diseased mind. Either way, it makes for hours of macabre, but also enthralling and rewarding, entertainment.

Hank Wagner

You have to marvel at Dan Simmons. A mere two years after producing the massive, intensely engaging, critically acclaimed masterpiece The Terror, he returns with another massive, intensely engaging, sure to be critically acclaimed masterpiece, Drood. Set in Victorian England, the novel focuses on the last five years of Charles Dickens' eventful and troubled life, beginning with the tragic 1865 train accident in Staplehurst, England and following Dickens' activities until his death in 1870. Simmons' brilliant conceit is that the story is being told by Dickens' friend, associate, and sometimes rival, Wilkie Collins, via a manuscript scheduled to be released 125 years after Collins' death.

Collins, a laudanum addict, and the very model of an unreliable narrator, weaves a tale so fantastic that it rivals the best of his own classic "novels of sensation," The Woman in White and The Moonstone. Collins maintains that, after the train accident, Dickens met, and became fatally obsessed with, a mystery man named Drood, an undead mesmerist supreme who some claim was responsible for over three hundred murders in London over the course of several decades. Collins painstakingly details Dickens' subsequent decline, and his myriad faults as a human being, at the same time exposing his own despicable acts and habits.

Expertly embellishing on historical events, Simmons ultimately leaves it to readers to decide whether Collins' manuscript contains the grisly truth or the barely controlled rants of a diseased mind. Either way, it makes for hours of macabre, but also enthralling and rewarding, entertainment.

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by Dan Simmons
Little Brown, February 2009, $26.95

Simmons
February 2009
drood
26.95
Little Brown